Juul stops funding campaign to overturn San Francisco anti-vaping law

E-cigarette company Juul said it would no longer try to overturn an anti-vaping law that San Francisco had passed earlier this year.

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Juul had reportedly been the sole significant source of financial funding for the campaign to vote "yes" on Proposition C, which would appear on the ballot in November. Prop C was an attempt to make it legal to sell vaping-related products to adults in San Francisco.

“Based on that news, we have made the decision not to continue on with the campaign,” Yes on C said in a statement.

In June, the city enacted an ordinance that beginning in 2020, would prohibit the sale of vaping paraphernalia and e-cigarettes that are not currently regulated by the FDA. The effect of that ordinance is that virtually all e-cigarettes and vaping products would not be able to be sold in San Francisco, since the industry is still largely unregulated.

“I am committed to seeing that JUUL engages productively with all stakeholders, including regulators, policymakers and our customers," newly appointed Juul CEO K.C. Crosthwaite said in a statement on Monday. "This decision does not change the fact that as a San Francisco-founded and headquartered company we remain committed to the city."

However, Larry Tramutola, who directs the No on Prop C campaign, was skeptical, noting that about $7 million in Juul's campaign donations remain unspent.

"This could very well be yet another of a series of lies and exaggerations from Juul and Big Tobacco," Tramutola said in a statement. "Until they return the $7 million unspent dollars that is in their political account, until they suspend their mail, their advertising, their paid phone calls and lay off their consultants we do not believe them."

A major part of his concern is that Prop C, despite the lack of an endorsement from Juul or further funding, will still be a choice on the ballot on election day later this fall.

Juul has showed a greater desire of late to act more "responsibly," as both a corporate entity and as the unquestioned leader in its industry, in the face of increasing criticism from the public and media, as well as growing scrutiny from the government. This comes after multiple recent deaths and injuries being reported and attributed to vaping and e-cigarette products that have become popular throughout the country.

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When Crosthwaite was named Juul CEO last week, he struck a conciliatory tone in terms of government efforts to deal with vaping safety issues and the future of Juul.

“We must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate," Crosthwaite said. "That includes inviting an open dialogue, listening to others and being responsive to their concerns.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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